How can brands, web retailers use community engagement to drive revenues?

Free diving immersion social experience resized 600The idea of branded content is just that people are wise to commercials now and don’t want to watch them, whereas they will watch, particularly on the Web, a very funny or sexy short involving some of their favourite actors.’ – from “So I was listening to some techno, when suddenly I wanted to buy stuff” by Russell Smith: 

My favorite example to illustrate the art of the possible in community engagement is the web retailer Joyus. They have a team of experts who present the company’s wares in video blogs. The videos create an immersive experience where the consumer builds an affinity to one or more of the spokesmodels – who are not as much pushing a product as they are sharing the reasons why they like a product and what it means to them at a personal level.  Contrast Joyus‘ approach versus that of the old stalwart The Shopping Channel.

Unfortunately some creative agencies look to the social channels such as Facebook and Youtube as traditional advertising media – and this has led to some frustration in the industry. The root problem is simple. Social media channels are a vehicle for consumer engagement, and the push to use these as glorified digital flyers leads to consumer disaffectation. However, some marketers insist on the latter approach. There’s a single big reason for this.

The line between social media channels and the cash register is indistinct at best. Most old-school marketers rely on last click tracking for revenue attribution. This concept does not work well, if at all, in social channels. So, the conclusion is that social media does not deliver revenues at least in any quantifiable way.

There is a path forward and it does not need intrusive technology for consumer tracking. It also does not need an update to the web site, something that is anathema to web retailers especially around the holiday season.

Technology now exists to map the revenue impact of digital marketing. The case study below is with a web retailer who wanted to understand the relevance of consumer engagement on Facebook to top line revenues.

What's social engagement worth? A Case Study in Revenue Attribution

Free diving photo by Adam Rifkin used here with permission under creative commons license.

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